Rethinking my Thinking on their Thinking

Rethinking my Thinking on their Thinking

By: Curtis Kelly, with Matt Ehlers

A few months ago, I was a lot different than I am now. Back then was when veteran contributor Harumi Kimura suggested we have a Think Tank issue on metacognition. As I have done many times before when I’ve heard that term, I googled it.

Contributor Matt Ehlers has the same tendency I do. When I told him the issue topic, he googled it too, and wrote his experience up. He mailed it to me. All 1600 words of it. (When Matt bites into something, he bites hard.) You can read it here if you wish. After all, it is rich in metacognition itself.

I always think I know what metacognition means before I google it, but there is something about the term, Meta + Cognition, that makes it seem like it must be more: Neurons on speed. Using more than 10% (sic). Uber. What comes before morphosis. And so, when I look it up and find it is just reviewing one’s thoughts, examining beliefs. I’m a little disappointed. I’d hoped for more. I feel ripples of so what.

But that was then. And now I am different.

Editing this issue was one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had (and I am not alone among the editors). Until I read the five fine articles in this issue, I never really thought about how student thinking and beliefs have such a powerful effect on their learning. Sure, I have spent a lot of class time engendering motivation and pointing out practicalities, but it never occurred to me, until I read this issue, how shaping my learner’s thoughts, their very thinking about what we study, could be such a powerful factor of learning.

It’s odd I missed that, because if there is one fundamental in psychology, it is how our thinking affects our disposition, actions, and potential. As the fine writing in this issue shows, that is true for student thinking as well. Their thoughts and beliefs are the mountain range that stands between learning and not learning, and we can be the ones who guide them to the pass (pun intended).

I am proud of what our writers have produced. Each article has surprising ideas, teaching suggestions, and personal experiences embedded, the three things we like. And I am also proud of how they have changed me. I will never see classes and learners the same way again.

So, read on. Enjoy. It’ll make you different.

Curtis Kelly (EdD) is reflecting on his life as a teacher and how it has changed his thinking. He wonders where he will teach next.


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